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Albany’s Community Police Review Board moves ahead minus most of the funding it sought from mayor

The Albany Community Police Review Board held its most recent hybrid meeting on December 8, 2022.
The Albany Community Police Review Board held its most recent hybrid meeting on December 8, 2022.

Albany's Community Police Review Board is making changes for the new year.

The Albany Community Police Review Board is an independent body that reviews complaints and conducts independent investigations into incidents of alleged misconduct by city police officers.

In July the board hired a California firm to help establish an infrastructure and foundational practices and to assist in "helping build trust between the community and the Albany Police Department." This month the board announced a pair of new partnerships with two contract investigators: T&M, USA LLC and James Conroy.

T&M’s Julie Schwartz describes the company as an experienced investigation firm with a global team consisting of former prosecuting attorneys, defense attorneys, former members of federal, state and local law enforcement, and industry leaders in the private sector.

“I'm a former bureau chief in the Kings County Brooklyn D.A. 's office, the sex crimes bureau," said Schwartz. "I was also in charge of internal as a deputy commissioner at the New York City Police Department, where I oversaw all the internal discipline for all employees, both uniform and civilian.”

Schwartz's partners are retired New York City Detective Sergeant Marty Gleason and Mike Mansfield, who had been a New York City prosecutor for 24 years.

“We've got a number of analysts that we use when we're conducting these investigations that are very skilled in social media investigations and other online investigations that we have found are a critical part of many of these types of matters," said Mansfield. "And then we also have a cyber team, in the event that there is the necessity to be imaging phones or recovering deleted texts."

Conroy, a 20-year law enforcement veteran in the New York City area, has extensive experience in police oversight and investigations, having conducted investigations for the New York City Civilian Complaint Review Board.

“And I've had a plethora of experience investigating officer involved in misconduct at the criminal level and administrative level as well as excessive use of force, accidental discharges, shootings, etc,” said Conroy.

The additional resources offered by the two firms should help the CPRB plow through its backlog of cases, with approximately 30 now under review.

A September request to city hall to budget $2.8 million in funding to operate fell through. The board was funded, but at the statutory minimum of 1% of the police budget, roughly $598,000. In November the Common Council approved additional funding of $172,000.

Board Chair Nairobi Vives says although 2022 has been a busy year for the panel there is still much work to be done.

"We've been able to bring on investigators so that we can start the process of our independent investigations," Vives said. "We've been working with our consultant team to make sure that our board is well trained. We've been working with the community to build more education and outreach from our board. We were able to secure some additional funding above the 1% that is mandated by Local Law J. I. It's another order of business nominations for next year. So if I am still chair next year, I will continue to ask for the funding amount that we need continue to update our board, make our structure one that we are an exemplary model of civilian oversight for the state and this country.”

Vives is expected to continue as chair. The next board meeting is scheduled for January 12th.

Dave Lucas is WAMC’s Capital Region Bureau Chief. Born and raised in Albany, he’s been involved in nearly every aspect of local radio since 1981. Before joining WAMC, Dave was a reporter and anchor at WGY in Schenectady. Prior to that he hosted talk shows on WYJB and WROW, including the 1999 series of overnight radio broadcasts tracking the JonBenet Ramsey murder case with a cast of callers and characters from all over the world via the internet. In 2012, Dave received a Communicator Award of Distinction for his WAMC news story "Fail: The NYS Flood Panel," which explores whether the damage from Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee could have been prevented or at least curbed. Dave began his radio career as a “morning personality” at WABY in Albany.
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